Video artist Elizabeth Price wins U.K.'s Turner Prize

Elizabeth Price, a video artist who explores our relationships to consumer culture, has won the £25,000 (about $40,000 Cdn) Turner Prize.
Woolworth Choir of 1979, video, by Elizabeth Price. (Tate Britain)

Elizabeth Price, a video artist who explores our relationships to consumer culture, has won the £25,000 (about $40,000 Cdn) Turner Prize.

The Turner, awarded annually to a contemporary artist under age 50 by Britain’s Tate gallery, is one of the art world's most prestigious and controversial awards.

Price was named winner Monday by actor Jude Law at the Tate Britain in London. The 42-year-old artist was hailed for her video installation The Woolworths Choir of 1979, which brings together photographs of church architecture, internet clips of pop performances and archival news footage of a fire in Manchester in which 10 people died.

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Price said she thought of her work as a way of remembering the 1979 fire and of showing that even dry archival information can be arresting and disturbing.

The judges said they admired the "seductive and immersive" aspects of her 20-minute film, which they said "reflects the ambition that has characterized her work in recent years."

In accepting the prize, Price said her career would be "unimaginable" without public support for the arts and hailed the other shortlisted artists, saying they had shared "respect, camaraderie and a sense of the absurd."  

Yorkshire-born Price was the least controversial of this years nominees for the Turner, who included:

  • Spartacus Chetwynd, a performance artist who has staged works about the Incredible Hulk and Jabba the Hutt.
  • Paul Noble, who produces minutely detailed drawings of a dystopian imaginary city.
  • Luke Fowler, a video artist who featured controversial psychiatrist RD Laing.
Elizabeth Price was named winner of the Turner Prize 2012 by actor Jude Law, right, in London Monday. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press)

The prize often sparks mocking debate about the value of modern art. Past winners include transvestite potter Grayson Perry and Damien Hirst, known for his pickled shark.

The Turner Prize, named after 19th-century landscape painter J.M.W. Turner, was established in 1984 to honour younger British artists.   

With files from The Associated Press